Saturday, April 13, 2024

Hawke’s Bay begins infrastructure recovery work

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council says it is working hard to restore vital infrastructure in the wake of flooding caused by ex-Cyclone Gabrielle.

Regional Council Chair, Hinewai Ormsby, who also chairs the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Joint Committee, said her heart goes out to the community and to the many who have lost far more than their homes.

“While this is a disaster, the real tragedy is the lives lost. We are concentrating on providing support for those who need it, as quickly as possible.”

As the lead environmental agency for Hawke’s Bay, she said the Council has a vital role in the response and eventually the recovery of the cyclone.

“We are working closely with Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, who are coordinating the response, and the other councils and key agencies to understand the magnitude of this event and provide necessary support,” Ms Ormsby said.

The region’s flood infrastructure experienced major cyclone damage across the region.

Ms Ormsby said the Council was undertaking a rapid assessment of the region’s stop banks, while a rapid response team was repairing critical areas.

Regional Council Interim Chief Executive, Pieri Munro said Council has completed a comprehensive survey of the damaged stop banks by air and a detailed drone inspection of key areas.

“We have mapped out the critical areas for urgent repair and teams are working around the clock to fix these. We have set up seven rapid response teams and will progressively expand this to restore the resilience of the stop banks. These are quick fixes, but not comprehensive solutions,” he said.

“Our immediate focus is doing everything we can to prepare the stop banks for further rain events. ”

“The Regional Council had already begun a programme of upgrades on the Heretaunga Plains scheme to lift protection from 1 in 100 levels to 1 in 500 levels.

“The Taradale stopbank upgrade completed late last year was instrumental in protecting much of Napier from catastrophic flooding, so we know these upgrades are vital.”

The Council is also reinstating the region’s flood warning system, after losing communication to most of the flood monitoring sites due to the unprecedented damage of Cyclone Gabrielle.

“We have 113 rain and river level monitoring sites across the region and we lost communication with most of these around midnight on Monday.”

“The Regional Council is starting to get data from our monitoring sites, that have been offline since Monday, and this is giving a growing picture of the extraordinary magnitude of this event.

Recent preliminary information shows that the Glengarry gauge, which is used to monitor the Esk Valley, shows it received 502mm over 24 hours – or the equivalent of nearly six months of rainfall. Between 1am and 7am, the gauge received 262mm of rainfall.

“The full rainfall data will be made publicly available once it has been quality assured. However, at this stage we can say that from what we are seeing this is largest rainfall event at a number of sites ever recorded in the region,” Mr Munro said.

Ms Ormbsy said the Council would fully co-operate with any inquiry into failings in warning systems, resilience and response when the time comes.

“But the focus at the moment is to provide critical support for the region,” she said.

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